IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Bad' odors may cause bad driving

Different odors affect the way motorists drive, a study finds.
/ Source: Reuters

Driving badly? Then ditch the pastry and reach for the mints.

Different odors affect the way motorists drive, with fast-food scents likely to increase road rage potential and other smells — like peppermint — deemed to improve concentration, the British RAC Foundation motoring organization said Friday.

“More than any other sense, the sense of smell circumnavigates the logical part of the brain,” the RAC Foundation’s consultant psychologist, Conrad King, said.

“This is why the smell of perfume can turn men into gibbering idiots, the smell of baking bread can destroy the best intentions of a dieter and the smell of baby powder can make a child-averse individual quite broody,” he said in a statement.

The RAC Foundation said it has conducted research into the impact of smells on driving after the release of an odor study by Bryan Raudenbush of the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

Cinnamon, lemon and coffee
King said good odors to have in your vehicle, other than peppermint, include cinnamon, lemon and coffee. A blast of salty sea air can also encourage deep breathing and help relieve stress.

In contrast, the smell of fast-food, fresh bread or pastry can cause driver irritability and a tendency to speed because they make motorists feel hungry and in a hurry to satiate their appetites.

Other “dangerous” odors are chamomile, jasmine and lavender because they can cause drivers to relax too much or fall asleep. The plants are commonly used to treat insomnia.

For those motorists who might opt for a neutral smelling interior, be warned. Studies of astronauts found an odor-less environment created irritability and even olfactory hallucinations.

Cars of the future are likely to have built-in systems that are able to detect a driver’s mood and react by altering the car’s seating, lighting, temperature and even smell. In the meantime motorists are advised to keep a packet of mints handy.